Some stories longer than others.
Some of the stories more meaningful than others, as to who I was and who I am.
Thanks to a friend for the idea. Thanks Harry Styron.
Thanks to his law school friend for transforming a bunch of shirts, ages two to fifty-one, into a colorful quilt. Thanks Kathy Tibbits.
Gonna break the telling into thousand word (or less) pieces.
It starts with hoops…
MAJC #1 (1968)
I was 5’10 and 140 pounds my senior year in high school. I changed high schools every year. I never made the basketball team in high school. In fact, the first team that I tried out for and “made” was at Ft. Bragg in 1971. (There is a story there….)
I added 4 inches and 40 pounds the summer after I graduated h.s. and started to come out of my shell.
I could shoot. I had good mechanics and form. I had quick hands. But I was skinny and puny…and an unassertive, introverted wallflower. My introversion resulted in lots of alone time growing up. Just me, a hoop and a basketball. I spent lots of time shooting a basketball all by myself.
At Mineral Area Junior College in Flat River, MO I made friends with a few of the guys on the juco team. I made friends with several local guys who had been good high school players. They put me on their intramural team.
I was not the best player on the intramural team that took the trophy at MAJC. But I was the most improved. I was never a scorer. I was a shooter.
(Note that my alone time after high school…and there was lot of it my first two years of college…added a fourth component: whiskey. Many afternoons I’d slam a few shots and take a couple-of-hundred jump shots on the blacktop court at Emerson Elementary School…where I had attended kindergarten. Over 30 years later I learned that my uncles knew about my jack-and-jumpshots time. )
There wasn’t a 3 point shot then, but in rhythm from 21 feet I could be deadly. And I had become fearless on the court. I liked guarding bigger guys; loved blocking out; liked to bump and bang.
Back “in the day” there was a thing called “town team basketball.” It was more than just a bunch of guys shooting some hoops and drinking beer. There were tournaments. There were sponsors. It was competitive and physical, especially the one held in Bismarck, MO. Lots & lots of bumping and banging.
In the spring of 1968, 7 of the guys who had played on the Mineral Area team the past 2 seasons got a team together. Most of them went on to play at 4 year colleges. I’m not quite sure to this day why they asked me to play on their team. I think they just needed an eighth to make the count even. Plus there was the shooting…. and the 5 hard fouls that I had to give.
I was mostly a practice dummy on the Blake Mattress Company team. But I always got some playing time, even in the finals of the Bismarck tournament. It was a barn-burner….and one of my favorite memories.
A few of the guys I played intramural ball with were in the stands at the finals. Somebody asked them “aren’t all those guys from the college team?”
“Yeah, except for that guy with the ball…”
And right then I buried it. On the next trip too.
I had 4 of our 103 points.
And a heckuva memory.
MAJC #2 (1972)
I was fresh out of the Army. My brother had just finished his two years on the team at MAC. Seven of them got a sponsor and entered the tournament at Bismarck.
Once again I was the only member of the team who hadn’t been on the local juco squad.
This tee shirt was a Christmas present. It “commemorated” a trip to Pamelia Lake, in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness of Oregon.
We had hiked to the beautiful lake at the foot of 10,497 foot Mt. Jefferson a few times before. It’s only 2.3 miles from the parking lot to the lake’s shoreline. Elevation gain of about 800 feet.
The hike had always been very pleasant, ending with snacks, weed and wine.
The tee was in remembrance of a cross-country ski experience.
Not all that pleasant for me…on my way in or out.
Four of us on the trek: my ex, and my two friends who had grown up in Wisconsin. Paula and Jim were both naturals on cross-country skis. Kevin was decent. I was horrendous.
None of us remembered from our hikes how much the trail twisted & undulated. Lots of up and downs.
I was down a lot. I have no idea how many times I had to pull myself out of the snow on the way to picturesque Pamelia Lake.
I had a fairly new pair of levis on that day, and every time I fell on my ass I would leave a couple of blue marks in the snow. My friends thought it was funny. I laughed with them, as they laughed at me.
I told them that I only had about a dozen more falls left in me, and after that I would walk back.
They didn’t think I was serious.
If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t have taken my skis off for the last half mile…or at least put them back on after I learned how hard it was to hoof it.
Walking turned out to take even more effort than the falling…staining the snow levis blue…and dragging my clumsy self back to vertical.
But if I had skied back to the parking lot, rather than walking, my friends would never have given me this awesome tee shirt!!